The power of articulation

By Michael Lake | November 26, 2021 |

A while back I wrote several posts about time, making the point that one’s sense of time and swing was more important in playing jazz than the ‘correct’ notes. The articulation of a note is a partner in time. You can have perfect time but if every note is attacked with the same force, dynamic,…

The power of habit in becoming the best possible person and jazz musician

By Michael Lake | November 17, 2021 |

You’ll hear me say that over and over in my masterclasses and throughout my online course Improvisation Savvy. I’ve written it in Jazz Patterns for Ear, Alto Trombone Savvy, and every other method book I’ve published. I’m referring to some particular single exercise or warmup element I’ll recommend that is important to one’s overall practicing…

A personal note to share from David Amram

By Michael Lake | November 9, 2021 |

The great composer, instrumentalist, and humanitarian David Amram replied to my post the other day on the book Richie Beirach and I put together on the film Whiplash. David occasionally writes me long expressions of his reactions to certain things I post, and since his 91st birthday is coming up in a week, I asked…

About the movie Whiplash and jazz education

By Michael Lake | November 7, 2021 |

A couple weeks ago I sent Richie Beirach a YouTube clip from the movie Whiplash as a bit of levity. It was the scene where the teacher in the film Fletcher berates that poor trombone player for being out of tune. Spoiler alert: He’s not out of tune and Fletcher knows it but was using…

Sharpening your skills and mindset in order to get more and better paid gigs

By Michael Lake | November 3, 2021 |

The holiday season is here once again and so are more opportunities for musicians to play and earn money. I want to help by sharing some tips with you on soliciting more and better opportunities for gigs and negotiating fear and guilt-free for more money. I’m writing this preparing for the holidays, but everything here…

Richie Beirach’s comment on my post, On time, practicing, and listening

By Michael Lake | October 28, 2021 |

That was a great article, as usual. Very persuasive and helpful points. Let me offer some thoughts of my own for people that will provide them with my perspective on these three topics as an experienced player. I know you wrote this post for players with a variety of skill levels, many of whom are…

On time, practicing, and listening

By Michael Lake | October 26, 2021 |

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of posts about time and rhythm. I suggested that rhythm is a fundamental yet under-appreciated element of good jazz playing and it is one of the obvious weaknesses of less experienced jazz players. I asked readers to send me a sample of their playing so that I…

Quick and easy mastery of improvising jazz

By Michael Lake | October 20, 2021 |

Okay, let me come clean that the title of this post is completely misleading. But when you first saw it, admit that you had a tinge of excitement that it could be possible. Sorry about that, but I’m trying to make a point. While jazz mastery is not quick and easy, I am going to…

One fix to your jazz playing that will make you swing

By Michael Lake | October 14, 2021 |

My last couple of posts have been dedicated to time and rhythm. So much of jazz education literature is obsessed almost exclusively to showing you the ‘right’ notes and scales to play over changes that we lose sight of the more important aspect of jazz and improvisation: time and rhythm. Anyway, in an earlier post…

Demonstrating the tangible elements of good jazz time

By Michael Lake | October 12, 2021 |

On Monday’s post I asked readers the question, what is your feel for time? I wanted to raise the idea of being aware of one’s personal feel for time and of the importance of good time in jazz improvisation. I also made the point that good time trumps carefully chosen ‘right’ notes. Even the most…